- There is no such thing as failure. Teaching employees that ideas and projects that don't work out our opportunity to learn and refine corporate processes, rather than failures, is critical to making them feel safe.
- Partial autonomy. If an employee has a particularly strong idea, then allowing them a form of ownership is important. Who better to lead a project than the person who was passionate enough to have thought about it in the first place?
- Back projects with IT resources. Not all ideas require huge financial computing resources to work. Sometimes, a successful skunkworks project can be piloted with relatively little setup time, and off-the-shelf tools that may well be available in free opensource form.
- Joining up the dots. When ideas work and result in business benefits, it is important to demonstrate the journey from concept through to realisation, and the eventual effect on the company's health. This will encourage others to step forward with their own ideas.
- Sharing is caring. Encouraging departments (including the IT department) to share the intellectual property that they have created, and to draw on appropriate intellectual property from outside of the organisation, such as open source tools, can help to speed and ideas journey from concept to business tool.
- Mandate an innovation culture. Work with human resources departments to build the concept of innovation directly into employee job descriptions and human resources handbooks. If employees are officially told to innovate, it will help them to grasp the necessary shift in thinking.
I've been writing about technology for nearly 20 years, including editing industry magazines Connect and Communications International. In 2002 I co-founded Futurity Media with Anthony Plewes. My focus in Futurity Media is in emerging technologies, social media and future gazing. As a graduate of philosophy & science, I have studied futurology & foresight to the post-grad level.